Red-Letter Day: Valentino Unveils Virtual Museum

“If somebody thought that when Valentino and I stopped working, we’d be sitting in Central Park feeding the pigeons, they’d better change their mind,” said Giancarlo Giametti, seated beside his longtime partner this morning at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. “Because we’re not going to stop.” The debonair duo chose an actual museum as the setting to unveil their digital one: the Valentino Garavani Virtual Museum, which launched today as a free app. Designed and produced over the last two years by Novacom Associés and Kinmonth Monfreda for a sum that Giametti would describe only as “a lot of money,” the ambitious initiative showcases five decades of fashion history in thematically organized virtual galleries—each one illuminated by sun streaming through portals to a blue, cloud-strewn “Roma sky”—of Valentino dresses along with more than 5,000 archival photos, videos, and documents such as sketches and advertising campaigns. Meanwhile, the designer himself is something of a Luddite. “I am completely out of these mechanical things,” he said at this morning’s press conference. “I arrived at one of my houses and wanted to watch a DVD, and I had to call down to the town for a guy to come help me play it, but this is about the future.” Giametti explained that the virtual museum will continue to evolve, making use of new technologies and adding more rooms as well as “masterclasses” by leading fashion figures and critics. “I still love design and clothes,” added the 79-year-old Valentino of his own ongoing role in contributing to the museum. “And I’m going to do unbelievable drawings of new creations.”